Thryonomys swinderianus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Thryonomyidae

Scientific Name: Thryonomys swinderianus (Temminck, 1827)
Common Name(s):
English Greater Cane Rat

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-09-07
Assessor(s): Child, M.F.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Hoffmann, M.
Listed as Least Concern in view of its wide distribution, presumed large population, it occurs in a number of protected areas, has a tolerance of a degree of habitat modification, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species has been widely recorded over much of Subsaharan Africa. The distribution is patchy and discontinuous and they only occur where there is suitable habitat. The species is distributed from Senegal, The Gambia and Guinea in West Africa eastwards to the Central African Republic, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and southern Sudan, and from here into East Africa where it ranges from Uganda and Kenya southwards throughout much of Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique into eastern South Africa (the Grahamstown district in the Eastern Cape province is the southerly limit [Skinner and Smithers 1990]). It has been recorded from 1,800 m asl on Kilimanjaro (Grimshaw et al. 1995)
Countries occurrence:
Benin; Botswana; Burundi; Cameroon; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Equatorial Guinea; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Kenya; Liberia; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; Senegal; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This is a fairly common species.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is typically found in association with reedbeds or in areas of dense, tall grass with thick reed or cane-like stems, typical of riverine and other similar habitats.  It has also become more common in urban areas and is regularly encountered in and on the edge of large cities. They are seldom found far from water. Skinner and Smithers (1990) note that agricultural crops (such as maize, wheat, sugar-cane, groundnuts) have greatly improved the habitat for this species such that they have become an agricultural pest in some regions, and are often responsible for damaging cassava crops, and, in West Africa, oil palm plantations. It is predominantly nocturnal, with little known of their biology and ecology. Two litters of as many as twelve young are born annually.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater
Generation Length (years):2

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: It is hunted for food.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. They are a favoured food item and commonly hunted with dogs in West Africa. This species is very common in bushmeat markets, and there have been numerous studies investigating the viability of farming this species to supply demands for protein in West and Central Africa. Jori et al. (1995) discuss the many economical, nutritional and environmental arguments for implementing rearing of this species in rural development programmes in Africa and methods to develop farming programmes. They are also a major agricultural pest, which has often led to control measures being applied to keep them out of plantations and fields.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in a number of protected areas throughout the range..

Errata [top]

Errata reason: This errata assessment has been created because the map was accidentally left out of the version published previously.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.1. Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls)
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.2. Wetlands (inland) - Seasonal/Intermittent/Irregular Rivers/Streams/Creeks
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.3. Wetlands (inland) - Shrub Dominated Wetlands
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education

Bibliography [top]

Ansell, W.F.H. 1978. The Mammals of Zambia. pp. 73-74. The National Parks and Wildlife Service, Chilanga, Zambia.

Delany, M.J. 1975. The Rodents of Uganda. Trustees British Museum (Natural History), London, UK.

Grubb, P., Jones, T.S., Davies, A.G., Edberg, E., Starin, E.D. and Hill, J.E. 1998. Mammals of Ghana, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Trendrine Press, Zennor, St Ives, Cornwall, UK.

Happold, D.C.D. 1987. The Mammals of Nigeria. Oxford University Press, London, UK.

Hoffmann, R.S. and Thorington, R.J. 2005. Family Sciuridae. In: E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 754-818. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3. Available at: (Accessed: 07 December 2016).

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Available at: (Accessed: 27 April 2017).

Jori, F., Mensah, G.A. and Adjanohoun, E. 1995. Grasscutter production: an example of rational exploitation of wildlife. Biodiversity and Conservation 4: 257-265.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Rathbun, G.B. (subeditor). 2005. Macroscelidea. In: J.D. Skinner and C.T. Chimimba (eds), The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion, 3rd edition, pp. 22-34. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Smithers, R.H.N. and Lobao-Tello, J.L.P. 1976. Check list and atlas of the mammals of Mozambique. Trustees of the National Museums and Monuments of Rhodesia, Salisbury, Rhodesia.

Swynnerton, G.H. and Hayman, R.W. 1951. A Checklist of the Land Mammals of the Tanganyika Territory and the Zanzibar Protectorate. Journal of the East Africa Natural History Society 20(6): 274-392.

Citation: Child, M.F. 2016. Thryonomys swinderianus (errata version published in 2017). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T21847A115163896. . Downloaded on 24 June 2018.
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